Southwest Airlines pilots sue Boeing for $100M over grounded 737 Max

Pilots with Southwest Airlines, the largest operator of Boeing's 737 Max aircraft, are suing the U.S. plane manufacturer for fasley representing the safety of its embattled plane. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Oct. 8 (UPI) — Pilots with Southwest Airlines sued Boeing on Monday for more than $100 million in losses due to the grounding of the 737 Max aircraft following two catastrophic crashes in under six months.

In the complaint filed with the District Court of Dallas, Texas, the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association accused Boeing of “deliberately misleading” the carrier and its pilots concerning the airworthiness of its 737 Max aircraft, which was involved in two crashes that killed 346 people.

The resulting fallout from the crashes saw the aircraft grounded worldwide, eliminating some 30,000 scheduled Southwest Airlines flights by the end of 2019, which equals  more than $100 million in losses for the carrier’s pilots as the company is the largest operator of the embattled plane, the union said in a statement.

“It is critical that Boeing takes whatever time is necessary to safely return the Max to service,” SWAPA President Capt. Jonathan L. Weaks said. “Our pilots should not be expected to take a significant and ever-expanding financial loss as a result of Boeing’s negligence.”

SWAPA, which represents about 9,700 pilots, said in its filing that the pilots lost millions in wages due to Boeing’s false representation of its 737 Max as being safe, airworthy and the same as previous models of the company’s best-selling aircraft.

“Boeing made a calculated decision to rush a re-engined aircraft to market to secure its single-aisle market share and prioritize its bottom line,” SWAPA said in its complaint. “In doing so, Boeing abandoned sound design and engineering practices, withheld safety critical information from regulators and deliberately misled its customers, pilots and the public about the true scope of design changes to the 737 Max.”

The lawsuit is the latest setback for the troubled company that last month began to compensate the families of those who died in the fatal crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 last October and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March.

The company also reported a $3.7 billion adjusted loss in July, its largest quarterly loss ever.

The cause of the accidents has been blamed on a faulty stall-preventing system, for which Boeing is working on a software fix that the Federal Aviation Administration must sign off on before the Max 8 and Max 9 planes can return to the skies.

Boeing called the lawsuit “meritless” and it will “vigorously defend against it.”


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